From May to mid-October, white-water rafting outfitters take thrillseekers to the three Maine rivers — the Kennebec, Dead, and Penobscot Rivers.
Even during droughts, Maine white water rafting promises class I-V rapids thanks to daily dam releases and routine high-level dam releases every few weeks. Maine is the only state in the Northeast that offers a great rafting experience because of this.
As for lodging, you can find Maine campgrounds and RV parks in each area or choose from lodges, private homes, and log cabins and cottages in the woods or by the rivers. Although, many white-water rafting outfitters offer all the lodging options that your heart desires.
We have gathered all the deets about the numerous white-water rafting companies in Maine so that you can plan your next river adventure. And, you can keep reading to learn about white-water rafting, including information about the Maine rivers, raft types, and tips for having the best experience.
Maine White Water Rafting Outfitters
Maine white water rafting companies primarily offer trips on the Kennebec, Dead, and Penobscot Rivers.
Additionally, a lot of Maine rafting outfitters provide a variety of other outdoor adventures as well, including overnight camping, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, guided hikes, mountain biking, and fishing.
White Water Rafting in the Kennebec & Moose River Valley
Moxie Outdoor Adventures
38 Troutdale Rd, West Forks, ME 04985 | 800-866-6943
Offering numerous white-water rafting trips on the Kennebec and Dead Rivers, Moxie has been showing locals and visitors the wild side of Maine for many years. You can even book your trip in a package that includes lodging. And, the outfitter offers tubing and hiking trips in The Forks.
Magic Falls Rafting Company
38 Dead River Rd, West Forks, ME 04985 | 800-207-7238
Founded in 1989, Magic Falls is a family company that is proud to offer outdoor adventures that invoke bonding with friends and family. Along with Maine white water rafting on the Kennebec and Dead Rivers, tube and raft rentals and lodging and camping are available.
Northeast Rafting & Tubing
2981 US-201, West Forks, ME 04985 | 207-695-0153
Formerly known as U.S. Rafting, this outfitter offers guided white-water rafting adventures on the Kennebec and Dead Rivers. Its base is just 20 minutes from the Kennebec put-in. Northeast Rafting & Tubing offers tubing trips with the put-in just steps away from its office.
Crab Apple Whitewater, Inc.
3 Lake Moxie Rd, West Forks, ME 04985 | 800-553-7238
This family-owned and operated rafting company has been guiding trips on the Kennebec and Dead Rivers rapids since 1983. With more than 35 years of experience, Crab Apple provides a superior experience. It has riverside lodging, a pub and restaurant, and an outdoor pool too.
Three Rivers Whitewater — Forks Fun Resort
2265 US-201, West Forks, ME 04985 | 207-663-2104
Since 1997, this outfitter has strived to offer the best Maine white water rafting trips, and it has earned a reputation for offering unforgettable experiences on the Kennebec and Dead Rivers.
You have the option to book all-inclusive packages with cabin, bunkhouse, and campsite lodging options. The packages even include dining at its full-service bar and restaurant.
Northern Outdoors — The Forks Adventure Resort
1771 US-201, The Forks, ME 04985 | 207-663-4466
A love of the wilderness was the driving force behind the launch of this backcountry expedition company in the mid-1970s. What started with fishing and hunting has expanded to include rafting on the Kennebec and Dead Rivers.
This Northern Outdoors location has cabins, a campground, and many other amenities as well, including recreational activities for all four seasons.
B#65 745, US-201, Caratunk, ME 04925 | 207-672-9298
From calm paddles to white-water paddles in canoes and kayaks, this family-owned and operated campground and guide service has been guiding excursions on the Kennebec and Dead Rivers since 2001. You can book single-day and overnight adventures, as well as tubing trips.
1094 US-201, Caratunk, ME 04925 | 207-672-4300
The only family and youth adventure vacation destination in Maine, this outfitter offers day and multiday white-water rafting trips on the Kennebec and Dead Rivers. In addition to rafting, Adventure Bound offers stand-up paddle boarding, inflatable kayaking, hiking, ropes courses, and rock climbing.
North Country Rivers — Bingham Maine Resort
36 Main St, Bingham, ME 04920 | 800-348-8871
A premier outdoor adventure outfitter in Maine, North Country Rivers has been offering high-quality rapids rafting on the Kennebec and Dead Rivers from its Bingham location since 2000.
This 60-acre resort features cabins and campsites, a nine-hole disc golf course, and Patrick’s Restaurant & Pub in the main lodge. Also, the outfitter offers wildlife tours, ATV excursions, hiking trips, fly fishing, snowmobiling, and more.
Maine Highlands White Water Rafting Outfitters
Northeast Whitewater Rafting & Moose Tours
155 Greenville Rd, Shirley Mills, ME 04485 | 207-695-0151
Because of its location, Northeast Whitewater is able to offer Maine white water rafting trips on the Kennebec, Dead, and Penobscot Rivers (as well as others). Also, the company offers moose tours, bird-watching trips, waterfall hikes, ice cave adventures, and more. And, you can stay in its yurts on Moosehead Lake.
Northern Outdoors — Katahdin Adventure Base Camp
5 Fredericka’s Way, Millinocket, ME 04462 | 207-663-4466
Penobscot River rafting trips with Northern Outdoors meet at the Katahdin Adventure Base Camp, where you can reserve a campsite or lakeside cabin within walking distance.
Also, this base camp is close to restaurants, and Northern Outdoors offers fishing, pontoon boat moose tours and stand-up paddle boarding on Ambajejus and Millinocket Lakes, and hiking in Baxter State Park.
5 Lily Bay Rd, Greenville, ME 04441 | 207-695-3288
Located in Greenville Maine, Northwoods Outfitters is situated in between the put-ins for white water rafting on the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers. You can customize your adventure according to your skill level. The company offers a wide range of other guided excursions all year too — from fishing to snowmobiling.
Maine Rafting Expeditions
10 Northern Cruise Trl, Millinocket, ME 04462 | 207-279-1909
Specializing in personalized Maine white water rafting trips, this company guides you along the Dead and Penobscot Rivers. It operates family-friendly excursions from Northern Timber Cruisers Lodge beside the Wilderness Edge Campground in Millinocket. It even offers river boarding fun.
New England Outdoor Center
200 Katahdin View Dr, Millinocket, ME 04462 | 800-766-7238
Founded in 1982, the NEOC is on a mission to “rekindle your spirit of adventure” with white water rafting on the Penobscot River among other activities — moose and wildlife tours, guided hiking, mountain biking, fishing and ice fishing, snowmobiling, and lots more.
The rafting trips meet at the Knife Edge Brewing & Adventure Center where you can grab some wood-fired pizza. The Penobscot Outdoor Center offers lodging that you can package with your trip too.
Penobscot Adventures Whitewater Rafting
135 Basecamp Rd, Millinocket, ME 04462 | 877-356-9386
This white-water rafting outfitter has been offering adrenaline-pumping trips on the Penobscot River’s rapids for more than 15 years. From mild family float trips to wicked and wild excursions, you can choose partial or full day trips to suit your schedule.
Jump and Raft
1 Hasbro Dr, Millinocket, ME 04462 | 207-723-3200
Touted as the ultimate extreme sports destination in Maine, Jump and Raft offers rafting through the Class V rapids of the Penobscot River with seasoned guides. What sets this outfitter apart, though, is that you can combine your adventure with skydiving. Plus, it has campsites, cabins, yurts, and a restaurant at its outpost.
Three Rivers Whitewater — Penobscot Outpost
131 Basecamp Rd, Millinocket, ME 04462 | 207-663-2104
From its outpost in Millinocket, Three Rivers offers Maine white water rafting trips on the world-renowned Penobscot River. You can choose from day and overnight excursions.
This outpost features a range of lodging options too — old-fashioned camping, bunkhouses, and cabin tents. In addition, it’s the closest campground to Baxter State Park. And, you can rent canoes and kayaks to explore Pockwockamus Pond.
North Country Rivers — Millinocket Maine Resort
102A Baxter Park Rd, Millinocket, ME 04462 | 800-348-8871
Since launching in 1983, North Country Rivers has added Penobscot River rafting trips to its plethora of wilderness activities. Its Millinocket base resort offers cabins and campsites, as well as a restaurant — all under the shadow of Mount Kathadin in Baxter State Park.
About White Water Rafting in Maine
White-water rafting in Maine is an adventure and an experience you will never forget. Anyone with an appetite for the outdoors will enjoy a rafting trip. In fact, Maine is known all over for its plentiful dam-released water, breathtaking scenery, and great Maine guides.
While some may be hesitant to the idea of white-water rafting, it’s an activity for a wide range of ages — as young as 8 and as seasoned as 75 years old — with very little physical fitness requirements and no prior experience necessary.
It’s the ultimate theme park ride brought to you, compliments of Mother Nature and your adventuresome outfitter guides.
Thanks to daily hydropower dam releases, Maine is the only state in the Northeast that can guarantee water levels even during the driest of summers. You can find annual schedules of high-water dam releases, which usually occur on weekends, so you can plan the ultimate white-water rafting experience.
White Water Rafting Maine Rivers
The Kennebec River provides 10 miles of white-water rafting. The river emerges from Moosehead Lake and widens out into the Lower Kennebec.
White-water rafting trips usually begin at Harris Station on Indian Pond and channel through the Kennebec Gorge before ending at The Forks (the Dead and Kennebec Rivers confluence).
Since the Kennebec River features Class II through V rapids, it’s suitable for everyone — from beginners and families to adventure seekers.
The Dead River has the longest stretch of continuous white-water rafting in the East, providing intense, nonstop excitement. The 16-mile rafting trip starts at Grand Falls and ends at The Forks.
Since it mostly runs through Class IV and V rapids (some II and III rapids), you’ll think it’s a paradise if you’re an adrenaline junkie.
The first 2 miles of the Penobscot River descend from McKay Station through Ripogenus Gorge. The last 12 miles of rapids end at the take near Pockwockamus Falls.
The Penobscot River can claim Class III to V rapids on any given day. The lower part of the Penobscot River ranges from Class II to III rapids, making it a good option for families and youth groups.
If you’re more adventurous, you’ll love the Class V Ripogeanous Gorge, Exterminator, and Cribworks sections of the Penobscot River.
River Rapids Classifications Explained
- Class I — easy difficulty with a slow current, small ripples, and no obstacles
- Class II — moderate difficulty with medium currents, small waves, and occasional obstacles
- Class III — hard difficulty with strong and irregular currents across longer stretches
- Class IV — very hard difficulty with strong irregular currents, slightly steep drops, and numerous obstacles
- Class V — extremely hard difficulty with strong hydraulics, irregular and swift currents, long vertical drops, and lots of obstacles
- Class VI — very hazardous and nearly impossible to raft; reserved for experts after proper planning and taking precautions
Types of White Water Rafts
Maine offers various types of white-water excursions — from inflatable rafts and kayaks to riverboards and tubing.
White-water rafts are the most common choice for beginners and those who want a guided raft ride in Maine.
White-water rafts can seat up to eight people with the river guide at the rear to steer the raft and provide the best rapid experience, as well as safety. Also, some outfitters offer rafts that only seat two people for more those who are more experienced.
This is a novel form of river rafting in Maine. Rather than in a raft, you float on a surfboard that’s specifically made for river rapids. This activity is solo, so you should be coordinated and able to swim.
Most white-water outfitters allow riverboarders to ride sections of river rapids multiple times rather than ride down the river in one long trip.
Canoes & Kayaks
Many white-water outfitters in Maine offer canoes and kayaks (or inflatable kayaks) for rafting trips. These watercraft cater to solar and duo rafters.
Most Maine rafting companies offer beginner trips for those with little or no experience on a kayak or raft with some simple instructions for paddling and navigating the canoes or kayaks in calm to moderate waters.
Overview of a White Water Rafting Trip
A Maine white water rafting vacation is the one time when “raging rapids” are cause for pure excitement.
In the Beginning
The day starts as you disembark from your shuttle at the head of the river. Here, your guide goes over the basics of your day and reviews rafting lingo and commands, how to paddle, and safety and PFD requirements. Then, you jump into your raft, and float down the river, ready for the adventure of a lifetime.
Along the Way
Sometimes, you drift along in solitude enjoying the wildlife and serene surroundings. You may even spy a Moose grazing by the river during your white-water rafting voyage.
Other times, you are paddling through white-water rapids, and it is guaranteed that you are no longer concerned about your stressful week at work.
What’s nice about Maine white water rafting outfits is that you can decide the level of rafting — from easy and beginner (Class I rapids) to more advance (Class V rapids). Much of Maine rafting is dam release controlled, so the water level is determined and closely monitored by Maine raft guides for your safety and optimum enjoyment.
Lunch gives you time to get out of the boat, stretch, and enjoy a hearty riverside picnic served by your guide. If you are traveling with a large group, you may fill several rafts and occasionally see the others in your group rafting down the river until you rejoin each other for lunch.
Your Maine white water rafting excursion continues after lunch until you get to the end of the rapids or your chosen route. Then, you are shuttled back to the outfitter center.
Typically, you will get to watch a photo slide show of the rafting trip and have the opportunity to purchase photos of the experience.
If you booked your experience through an all-inclusive resort outfitter, you may enjoy drinks, dinner, and a campfire with fun conversations about your big day on the white-water rapids.
Maine White Water Rafting Tips
Preparing for a white-water rafting trip is easier than you think when you’re rafting with a Maine outfitter because it provides much of what you need for the adventure. So, you can just enjoy your adventure down the river rapids.
Leave Valuables Behind
Our recommendation is to leave valuable belongings, including your cellphone and wallet, at the rafting center or in your car. You are likely to get wet during the trip, so anything that’s not waterproof or irreplaceable is at risk.
NOTE: While you can ask your raft guide for a dry bag to keep personal items with you protected from the water, the safest spot is high and dry on land — not in the raft.
Wear the Right Attire
What you should bring for the rafting trip includes what you’re wearing, and wearing the wrong attire can diminish your rafting experience. That’s how you lose a shoe!
Finding a good Maine rafting company and wearing the right clothing will make for a better rafting trip, and less concern for your stuff so that you can focus on a fun-filled excursion.
Generally, Maine rafting guides provide life jackets, safety helmets, paddles, towels, and lunch, which makes preparing for your rafting trip easier. They often allow you to purchase waterproof cameras or rent extra gear too — wetsuits, waterproof booties, and splash tops designed to keep you comfortable.
Dressing in layers and being prepared for everything from a blazing hot sun to shivering cold water is smart. And, your own “dry bag” may prove helpful too. Here are more recommendations for what to wear and bring with you:
- Straps for eyeglasses or sunglasses
- Neoprene booties, water shoes, Tevas, tennis shoes, or sandals fixed to your feet with hooks and loops
- Waterproof camera with wrist strap (using only when the river is smooth)
- Waterproof sunscreen
- Bathing suit (warm weather days only, not likely needed in May or June)
- Technical fabric clothing that repels or wicks away moisture and dries quickly
- Waterproof breathable shell
- Long sleeve cover-up in case you get chilly and for sun protection
- Zip-off pants that convert to shorts
- Synthetic fleece or polyester socks and sweaters (cold weather)
- Wetsuit or dry suit (optional in warm weather)
- Hat with a tether or strap so it doesn’t fly away with the wind or during a “sudden swim”
During the spring and fall, we recommend that you wear warm clothing — woolen or technical fabric clothing — because it resists water absorption. Staying dry, or at the very least drying fast, will help you stay warm during your Maine white water rafting trip.
On warm summer days, you could leave your shirt behind or wear a long sleeve cotton shirt because cotton retains water well and takes a while to dry. As a result, it keeps you cool and protects your skin from UV rays.
You may prefer to wear a polyester material, however, as it wicks away moisture, dries quickly, and doesn’t get heavy and soggy like cotton.
Once you have the right gear for rafting with a certified Maine guide and outfitter, you’re on your way to an adventure you’ll remember in comfort!
Lodging Options While White Water Rafting in Maine
The experience of white-water rafting the calm to Class V rivers in Maine has come a long way in recent years, from rustic to resort-like.
Not too long ago, going rafting in Maine meant camping out in the great outdoors. It’s a great experience, mind you, because there is nothing quite like that campfire camaraderie.
Today’s rafters can still choose to camp out in a tent by the river. But now, you can also choose from cabins, fine bed and breakfasts, wilderness lodges, private homes, and river resorts.
On the other hand, many Maine white water rafting companies offer all-inclusive lodging and rafting packages, so your rafting, equipment, and lodging are included — even meals — with your rafting outfitter.
Day, weekend, and weeklong rafting trips are all available. It’s normally easier to stay with your rafting outfitter, but there are plenty of cabins and inns nearby too.
FAQs About Maine White Water Rafting
What is the best month to go white water rafting in Maine?
The best month for Maine white water rafting is June because the springtime runoff makes for an exciting experience and there are fewer crowds.
Since dam releases control the water levels, though, anytime from May to October is ideal for white water rafting.
How old do you have to be to go white water rafting in Maine?
People of all ages can enjoy Maine white water rafting as long as they can stay in the raft and/or paddle — even kids as young as 8 years old.
With that said, Class 1 to III rapids are better suited for kids ages 12 and younger. Older individuals may be able to handle more difficult rapids.
Where is the best place to sit while white water rafting in Maine?
Your guide will advise you on the best place to sit while Maine white water rafting. Usually, the outer rim of the raft is the best for balance, but the guide may ask you to adjust according to the rapids’ conditions.
Plan Your Maine White Water Rafting Adventure
Now you’re ready to start planning your white water rafting trip in Maine. Whether you want to raft the rapids for a day or three, there are plenty of options for all ages and group sizes.
Then, come back and tell us about your trip in the comments!